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How do handle multiple points of view? (2 Viewers)

Trying to get started on my next novel, but still undecided on POV...urg! This is where I wish writing were more of a science and some stuff was set in stone. But nooo....we have to decide on everything!

Just examined a novel by one of my favorite authors to glean some guidance. They started with five MCs each getting a POV chapter with their name under the chapter number. Then one more round without the names. Then from there, no pattern. For some chapters, the POV is split by scene. A few minor characters get their own POV for one scene in a chapter. And at Chapter 22 a new character POV is introduced and gets a whole chapter. In chapter thirty a character who only had small POV sections in previous chapters gets a whole chapter POV. Then it seems to carry on like this, with no pattern at all.

For my first novel, I used a pattern. MC#1; MC#1; MC#2; MC#1; MC#1; MC:3 and stayed with that pattern until the end, where I changed it up to MC#1; MC#2; MC#3 and then one chapter with all three broken up by conversations. Somehow using a pattern made the project so much more manageable. It's hard enough dreaming up every chapter scene, it helps to have some things previously decided.

I'm also struggling with the male or female point of view. For book one I made it easy on myself by only writing female point of view. I had checked with people if this was appropriate, and everyone agreed that there are enough great male POVs out there and that since 65% of fiction readers are women, it would be perfectly fine to stay in the female POV. So I am wondering if I should attempt to write a male POV or stay with what I already know I enjoy and can do.

Just writing this out has helped me a bit...but to help me decide, I would love to hear from some of you:

How do you handle your multiple POVs? What struggles and successes have you had? Do you use a pattern?

Also, do you have a preference in POV when reading other authors? What are your thoughts on POV patterns in general?
 
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You are, of course, much more knowledgeable about these things than I, but wouldn't you agree that only one story is being told--even in the Lord of the Rings--and that, ultimately, there is one character without which this main story could not be told? Eliminate Gandalf & his voice is gone from the Elvin council; yet, there still remains the ring (unidentified now) and the evil forces searching for the ring. Eliminate Aragorn and the Fellowship of the Ring is now led by...Boromir? (& I doubt it will succeed!) But eliminate Frodo and there is no one left of a pure heart with which to carry the ring. He among all the characters is uniquely situated to carry the unfolding of the story to its end. Likewise, Frodo's nemesis, Gollum, works counter to Frodo throughout his adventure and, at the end as they wrestle atop the prominence within the volcano's caldron we see clearly that Frodo is not unlike Gollum but differs only in his penultimate decision? No other character is as finely entwined with another as are Frodo with Gollum. (There is a literary term for this...) The Main Character needs the support of secondary and tertiary characters to accomplish his mission, but the main storyline can divide into branches, each branch having a central character around which that branch can function as its 'MC' but, as it regards the work as a whole, while their stories support the main storyline theirs is not the main storyline. Therefore, neither Gandalf nor Aragorn can be the MC because their substories are interlaced into the longer narrative. Besides, wouldn't "MC" be a misnomer if it meant a plurality of leaders? I mean, by definition it means 'main' character. So while we may be at odds on 'stage time' here, I think we agree as the role of independent agency. So long as independent agency works toward the resolution of one story, then I think we also agree that each character is also--ultimately--telling just the one story.
You may be right there, but in my first fantasy novel, I have two MCs, and you could eliminate neither from the story. Each compliments the other's story. Plus you get back to my example of romance novels. Two MCs are required.

IMO, in Lord of the Rings, Gandalf's and Aragorn's stories are essential to sell how desperate Frodo's story is.
 
I haven’t read everything here, but I plan to as people are talking about their WIPs. :)

I don’t think there is any prescription out there to be found in this one, @Taylor. You are in semi-charted waters with lots of “Here Be Dragons” and continents painted like islands. I think multiple POV used to be written more often in omniscience before the 1930’s so our current trends are all still evolving.

You’ll have to decide to stick by some aspect of your book that you feel strongly about. You could decide it’s going to be all-women or decide that whatever is best for the story is what you will do. Do you know the story of this next book yet? I think you did If not, this might be a premature question. If so, what person do you think is best to tell a certain part? I’m afraid it’s all up to you and this is another way in which writing is lonely… but also pretty wonderful. We are the gods of our worlds.

I am in decided at this point. I don’t think I will cycle through my POVs, but instead the first POV will stands alone for many chapters which is weird,, but I think it’s right for the story. A 3 voice each having their say kind of thing, which I don’t remember being done, but there are a lot of books out there. I haven’t read The Hours if that’s what it does (I don’t know). Rashoman is a favorite movie of mine and tells a story from 3-4 points of view. It seems right for my book with the time changes that I’ve got.

Maybe I will change it after I write more scenes? If you can stand it, that’s what I suggest is to write your scenes and then arrange and rearrange as/(if?) needed.
 
You’ll have to decide to stick by some aspect of your book that you feel strongly about. You could decide it’s going to be all-women or decide that whatever is best for the story is what you will do.
Yes, I wrote a few chapters from a male point of view but not sure I want to pursue it. The series is very much about why good people make bad decisions, and there is a lot of internal justification. I feel more comfortable writing female POV, because it's what I know. I put in typical female vulnerabilities in Book one, that so far readers love. Not sure I could do that with a male character. And I figure for every female POV written, there have to be at least three male POVs, so I don't feel guilty about it.
Do you know the story of this next book yet? I think you did If not, this might be a premature question. If so, what person do you think is best to tell a certain part? I’m afraid it’s all up to you and this is another way in which writing is lonely… but also pretty wonderful. We are the gods of our worlds.
I know the theme and underlying financial case. I have an idea of the two plotlines. And it's a good question, and frankly, the one that caused me to post this thread because the story begs for certain characters from the first book but not all. The pattern I used worked really well last time, and it helped me to keep up productivity because it took one deciding factor out of my realm each day...as in I knew what POV needed to come next. I'm leaning toward using the same pattern, but making the protagonist from the last book a secondary or even minor character. Keeping about 1/3 of the MCs and SMCsfor Book 2. I've been scribbling a lot....and it's getting clearer every day!

I am in decided at this point. I don’t think I will cycle through my POVs, but instead the first POV will stands alone for many chapters which is weird,, but I think it’s right for the story. A 3 voice each having their say kind of thing, which I don’t remember being done, but there are a lot of books out there. I haven’t read The Hours if that’s what it does (I don’t know). Rashoman is a favorite movie of mine and tells a story from 3-4 points of view. It seems right for my book with the time changes that I’ve got.Maybe I will change it after I write more scenes? If you can stand it, that’s what I suggest is to write your scenes and then arrange and rearrange as/(if?) needed.
Multiple third-person POV is quite common in the novels I read. Cristina Alger sticks to female POV and her style is similar to mine. For the last book, I wrote about six scenes before writing chapter one. But once I got going, I had to write in sequence. It makes it easier to build on the knowledge already conveyed to the reader.

How far are you into the book?
 
Ralph...what are you alluding to? Care to elaborate?
You'll find advice from various writers that the first xxx words of an aspiring writer are practice (sometimes called crap). Ralph is being more optimistic than many. You'll often read the number as a million words, or even two million words.

The million-word advice is hyperbole, at least as regards a writer who is educated, well read, and motivated to learn the finer points of writing fiction. And while, yes, the vast majority of "first novels" I read as an Amazon reviewer were utter crap, I ran across a few that are excellent.

Once upon a time, a substantial portion of writers started writing short stories and/or novellas and submitted them to magazines. They might write quite a few of those before they got to the point they started to sell. So there you have 200K words of practice ... all the short stories they wrote that didn't sell before one did. Now, were all those early stories crap? Not always. Sometimes those authors would finally sell, and get popular. For the better writers, suddenly their early work which didn't sell had a market, too. And many of those authors moved up to novel length work.

However, lots of writers also begin with novel length work, and I'll assume with self-publishing and the glut of small presses, that percentage has only grown. A few of them have a natural feel for language, and the imagination to plot. They skip the 200K words.
 
You'll find advice from various writers that the first xxx words of an aspiring writer are practice (sometimes called crap). Ralph is being more optimistic than many. You'll often read the number as a million words, or even two million words.

The million-word advice is hyperbole, at least as regards a writer who is educated, well read, and motivated to learn the finer points of writing fiction. And while, yes, the vast majority of "first novels" I read as an Amazon reviewer were utter crap, I ran across a few that are excellent.

Once upon a time, a substantial portion of writers started writing short stories and/or novellas and submitted them to magazines. They might write quite a few of those before they got to the point they started to sell. So there you have 200K words of practice ... all the short stories they wrote that didn't sell before one did. Now, were all those early stories crap? Not always. Sometimes those authors would finally sell, and get popular. For the better writers, suddenly their early work which didn't sell had a market, too. And many of those authors moved up to novel length work.

However, lots of writers also begin with novel length work, and I'll assume with self-publishing and the glut of small presses, that percentage has only grown. A few of them have a natural feel for language, and the imagination to plot. They skip the 200K words.
I have heard that many times before, mostly here on WF. But with all due respect, it is an unproven, unscientific theory. And why is Ralph espousing that here? What does that have to do with this thread on how do you handle multiple POV?
 
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Yes, I have heard that many times before, mostly here on WF. But with all due respect, it is an unproven, unscientific theory. And why is Ralph espousing that here? What does that have to do with this thread on how do you handle multiple POV?
I wouldn't say it's unproven. It applies to most beginning writers, just not with a hard word count. People learn and improve at vastly different rates, and some come right out of the gate with writing anywhere from decent to great. Harper Lee. Margaret Mitchell. Examples are legion.
 
Yes, I wrote a few chapters from a male point of view but not sure I want to pursue it. The series is very much about why good people make bad decisions, and there is a lot of internal justification. I feel more comfortable writing female POV, because it's what I know. I put in typical female vulnerabilities in Book one, that so far readers love. Not sure I could do that with a male character. And I figure for every female POV written, there have to be at least three male POVs, so I don't feel guilty about it.

I know the theme and underlying financial case. I have an idea of the two plotlines. And it's a good question, and frankly, the one that caused me to post this thread because the story begs for certain characters from the first book but not all. The pattern I used worked really well last time, and it helped me to keep up productivity because it took one deciding factor out of my realm each day...as in I knew what POV needed to come next. I'm leaning toward using the same pattern, but making the protagonist from the last book a secondary or even minor character. Keeping about 1/3 of the MCs and SMCsfor Book 2. I've been scribbling a lot....and it's getting clearer every day!
Good work figuring out the female POV. Trial and error. Trial and error is something I need to not be a wuss about!
Multiple third-person POV is quite common in the novels I read. Cristina Alger sticks to female POV and her style is similar to mine. For the last book, I wrote about six scenes before writing chapter one. But once I got going, I had to write in sequence. It makes it easier to build on the knowledge already conveyed to the reader.

How far are you into the book?
I didn't describe well. I mean 1/3rd of the book with 1 character, then 1/3rd by the next. Not cycling. At least, not yet. Do you know any books like that? Actually Charlotte Bronte's Shirley is from 2 POVs and the 2nd one comes in about 2/3rds through the book, actually. The first time I read it, I thought "Oh my gosh, the book is really about Shirley (yes the title) who has been in the background all this time?" because with 2/3rds of it being from the POV of Caroline really made me think the title was just because Shirley kind of saves Caroline. It was kind of a shocker, especially from a Victorian-era book. I loved that interesting switch, really! Whatever the story needs!

For mine no cycling at first because I really feel the first voice needs to stand alone to get the full impact of her story and set the ground-work for the rest.. and yes, I thought I would expand that first person to a full book, but now I'm thinking shorter and to get to the others might be best. At some point I can cycle.
We will see. I have 30,000 words is all-- although that has been momentous for me. I have put this book (the time-traveling one) on pause for a bit, in order to figure these things out. I'm still thinking about that world a lot. Hopefully I'll do some writing today.

I'm also working on my good old Viking book... which I'm loving now. I am trying not to do any research for it that I haven't already done and just write.
I am researching my Greenland Norse book heavily.
These are my 3 WIPs right now.
 
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I wouldn't say it's unproven. It applies to most beginning writers, just not with a hard word count. People learn and improve at vastly different rates, and some come right out of the gate with writing anywhere from decent to great. Harper Lee. Margaret Mitchell. Examples are legion.
I was giving Ralph an opportunity to explain how "The first 200,000 words are just practice." is relevant to the thread. He may have more to add.

Your statement above seems contradictory. It is unproven as you say, "some come right out of the gate..." Of course, people improve with practice, but that does not mean that every beginning author should not worry too much about their POV because they are going to throw out the first 200K. Because that's how it comes across in this thread. It's not a relevant thought that adds value to this discussion as is -- unless Ralph can elaborate.
 
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I was giving Ralph an opportunity to explain how "The first 200,000 words are just practice." is relevant to the thread. He may have more to add.

Your statement above seems contradictory. It is unproven as you say, "some come right out of the gate..." Of course, people improve with practice, but that does not mean that every beginning author should not worry too much about their POV because they are going to throw out the first 200K. Because that's how it comes across in this thread. It's not a relevant thought that has value to this discussion as is -- unless Ralph can elaborate.
No, my comment had nothing to do with PoV either, just a discussion of how quickly various authors may reach an effective level of writing, since that came up. And no, it's not relevant to this discussion.
 
You'll find advice from various writers that the first xxx words of an aspiring writer are practice (sometimes called crap). Ralph is being more optimistic than many. You'll often read the number as a million words, or even two million words.

The million-word advice is hyperbole, at least as regards a writer who is educated, well read, and motivated to learn the finer points of writing fiction. And while, yes, the vast majority of "first novels" I read as an Amazon reviewer were utter crap, I ran across a few that are excellent.

Once upon a time, a substantial portion of writers started writing short stories and/or novellas and submitted them to magazines. They might write quite a few of those before they got to the point they started to sell. So there you have 200K words of practice ... all the short stories they wrote that didn't sell before one did. Now, were all those early stories crap? Not always. Sometimes those authors would finally sell, and get popular. For the better writers, suddenly their early work which didn't sell had a market, too. And many of those authors moved up to novel length work.

However, lots of writers also begin with novel length work, and I'll assume with self-publishing and the glut of small presses, that percentage has only grown. A few of them have a natural feel for language, and the imagination to plot. They skip the 200K words.
Along the lines of Aristotle's oft-said maxim: We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.
We get better at what we repeatedly do. There's but one path to excellence in writing, and that is to write... a lot. Sure, taking classes, reading books about writing, and just reading a lot in general - all these help (especially the last one), but to become a good author, sit yourself down and write.

I've heard suggestions that we should start with journaling, then short stories, and finally novels. Maybe that's good advice, or not... I followed that path without intending to; for a long time I kept journals of my travels, then wrote short stories, mostly because that's all I had time to write.

Regarding first novels, I'm kinda afraid to go back and read Dark Side and Last Dragon; maybe they're ok... or not... the thing is that I've learned a lot since then - but that doesn't necessarily mean my novels are better now.

Well, I've blathered long enough. Just write, damn it!
 
Regarding multiple POV - read your favorite authors, dissect what they do - keep what worked for them and toss the rest.
ETA:
IMO, the fewer POV characters you have the more likely that your readers will bond with them - and care about the outcome.
 
No, my comment had nothing to do with PoV either, just a discussion of how quickly various authors may reach an effective level of writing, since that came up. And no, it's not relevant to this discussion.
Well, I'm sure it would be a great discussion! But the juxtaposition of Ralph's comment threw me into a tiswas...lol!
 
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My answer to this might change but for now I'd say whatever POV you hear in your head clearly should get either precedence or the whole book. I know that's not the whole answer because there are other considerations but why not start there. I love to read anything that fades from the page as I read it and takes place in my head as I read. So if the author writes one character and sticks solely with them (Stephanie Plum) that's great if that voice is engaging and feels natural, solid. If the author writes several POVs and can arrange them so that I don't get lost, that they're distinct enough I enjoy that, too. Also don't feel like every POV needs equal time, they don't.

There is a lot to think about with this and not overthinking might get difficult!
 
My answer to this might change but for now I'd say whatever POV you hear in your head clearly should get either precedence or the whole book. I know that's not the whole answer because there are other considerations but why not start there. I love to read anything that fades from the page as I read it and takes place in my head as I read. So if the author writes one character and sticks solely with them (Stephanie Plum) that's great if that voice is engaging and feels natural, solid. If the author writes several POVs and can arrange them so that I don't get lost, that they're distinct enough I enjoy that, too. Also don't feel like every POV needs equal time, they don't.

There is a lot to think about with this and not overthinking might get difficult!
What you say backs up completely my instinct on this...so thanks for that! Sometimes we are just looking for confirmation that we are on the right track.

I don't feel that I'm overthinking. POV is so hard, if even possible, to change well into the book. So if it takes a few discussions and some extra time thinking it out, I'm good with that.

But what I'm hearing in my head are three smart woman working through their own strengths and vulnerabilities.
 
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